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Brother Rice fans fill the visitor stands at Marist to overflowing during their game at Marist. Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media
There is no need for additional motivation when it comes to the Pulaski Road Super Bowl between neighborhood rivals Marist and Brother Rice.
Just like there is no need to stoke the fires between Ohio State-Michigan, Bears-Packers, Slash-Axl.
The Marist-Rice rivalry is unlike any other at the prep level.
Much of emotion can be attributed to the proximity of the two schools, which are separated by two miles, and the number of respective students who reside in the same communities. Throw in wildly supportive alumni, the Crusader Crazies vs. RedHawk Rowdies student sections and the single-sex (Brother Rice) vs. coed student (Marist) debate and what you have is, well, the Pulaski Road Super Bowl.
“I think it’s great,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “It’s great for the teams and the neighborhood. It’s an incredible environment.”
I don’t think Dunne and his players were too keen on the environment after last season’s 34-31 overtime loss to Rice.
As a matter of fact, I know RedHawk Nation took offense. That’s why emotions have entered another stratosphere for Friday’s game at Rice.
Allow me to refresh your memory. When the Crusaders secured their three-point victory last season, Rice and its fans celebrated with the fury of a state championship.
Problem was, it was Week 2 of the season, not Thanksgiving weekend in Champaign. And it was Marist’s field.
Now, there are two ways to look at such a scenario: Hey, it’s Brother Rice-Marist. Emotions always are sky-high, and with the game not having been played in three years, they were stratospheric.
On the other hand, there’s the old saying, “Act like you’ve been there before.”
Hey, I can see both sides of the debate. I tend to side in favor of allowing kids to celebrate their accomplishments — to a certain extent.
There were so many Rice fans celebrating, Marist had difficulty leaving its own field.
Then-Brother Rice coach Steve Nye, now at York, is an emotional guy, but I never, ever saw him so fired up addressing his kids during a postgame speech. I was ready to summon a paramedic.
Dunne, on the other hand, while clearly not happy, kept his emotions in check.
If you’re under the impression the celebration has been erased from the minds of the RedHawks, you’re mistaken.
“When the horn blew, everyone on their side ran onto the field,” Marist defensive back Cody Bohanek said. “It was a terrible feeling. Absolutely, that alone motivates us.”
Rice’s motivation? Plenty. First-year coach Brian Badke, like Nye, is a Brother Rice graduate. It goes without saying that Rice wants to win the game. But a win not only would secure bragging rights for another year, it likely would knock Marist off its perch as the SouthtownStar’s No. 1 team.
Then there’s the evolving debate between quarterbacks. Marist’s Ian Woodworth passed for 286 yards and two scores against St. Rita in Week 1; Rice’s Matt Page 275 yards and five TDs vs. Shepard.
Badke, of course, is well aware of the hype and significance of the rivalry.
“Of course we want to have bragging rights,” said Badke, who lost twice to Marist as a player at Rice. “It’s a huge rivalry. But they’re the No. 1 team in the area. They’re supposed to win this game.”
Rankings and records mean nothing when it comes to the Pulaski Road Super Bowl, in which Rice owns a 17-15 series edge. After the Crusaders’ impressive 48-14 Week 1 win, spirits are high at 99th and Pulaski.
“There are so many distractions with it being such a huge rivalry,” Badke said. “We’ve got to stay focused and take care of business.”
Marist is coming off an impressive 35-25 win over No. 4 St. Rita at Soldier Field. Dunne, however, sees plenty of room for improvement.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “We’ve got to get better. But we’ll have a couple of different things we’re going to try and do Friday.”
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